Japan’s new ‘anti-harassment’ laws are so bad they could be ‘a disaster’
Japanese lawmakers have introduced sweeping new anti-harassing laws, which could potentially “destroy” the countrys reputation as a safe place for women to work and live, an independent expert has warned.
Read more about Japan:Japan’s new anti, anti-misogyny law is a nightmare for women in Japan’s workplace, says independent expertThe Japanese government has introduced sweeping anti-discrimination and harassment measures to curb harassment and abuse of women and their families, including banning the use of derogatory terms such as “kikosha”, which refers to women as “cockroaches”, “gooks” and “pimps”.
Read moreAbout 500,000 women and girls have been reported to the police for such behaviour since a previous wave of sexual harassment in the 1990s, but the new laws would apply only to Japanese-based companies.
The measures would also include a ban on using the word “yuri” to describe women, and prohibiting the use “pimp” to refer to women.
A number of women have told Human Rights Watch that they have experienced verbal and physical abuse at work and that they were harassed by bosses or employees.
A number of Japanese women have filed complaints with the national police over such incidents.
“The Japanese are really trying to take over society, and the government is trying to protect them,” Yasuko Tama, a professor of gender studies at Tokyo’s Sophia University, told AFP.
“We are really scared to speak out.
It is a very bad time to be a woman in Japan, and we need to be careful.”
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is expected to formally introduce the new anti anti-hate speech and discrimination laws on Friday, has repeatedly defended the measures.
“Women have been subjected to severe discrimination and harassment in Japan since the country was founded in 1910,” he told a news conference on Tuesday.
“I am determined to protect the rights of women to be free from discrimination.”
But Japan has a long history of discrimination against women and women’s rights groups say they are concerned the measures will “destroy the country’s reputation as one of the safest places to work”.
“This is a big setback for Japan’s efforts to make the country a safe workplace for women and children, which has been the core of the Japanese government’s agenda since the 2020 election,” Nara Gokhale, a senior researcher at the Tokyo-based International Campaign for Women and Girls (ICWF), told Reuters.
“In this regard, the measures are an utter disaster for women, which means that it will create a huge problem for the Japanese economy.”
The government’s anti-pimp and harassment bill, which is set to go into effect in December, is not yet official, but it has been passed in parliament.
A draft law which is also being debated has already been passed.
The new legislation was written by the National Diet, a group of lawmakers who have the final say on matters that impact on the country.
Abe said on Tuesday the legislation would protect the right to a “safe environment” and would “protect women and promote social harmony”.
However, the National Police Agency has said that it is investigating complaints of sexual abuse at the workplace and that the law will not go into force until the police agency investigates the complaints.
The police agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report by AFP.
A report published by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (JSPV) last month called for the ban on use of the term “pumpkin” in Japan.
It also criticised the government’s use of anti-women language in the law, saying it is an “unacceptable and discriminatory” misuse of language.
“Japanese culture and history has been a source of sexual discrimination and violence against women for centuries,” the JSPV report said.
“Although this history is often overlooked, women’s lives have also been made much harder due to the lack of equal rights in Japan.”
The JSPLV also criticised Abe for proposing the legislation without consulting women, saying that women’s groups and the press have been “very concerned”.
“The National Police and the Ministry of Justice have been working together with the [national police agency] to draft the anti-misconduct law,” it said.
“We are deeply concerned about the impact of this law.”
Abe has previously defended the bill, saying he is committed to protecting women’s “right to be safe in Japan”.
“Japan has a tradition of respecting the rights and dignity of women,” he said in a statement in January.
“The government must ensure that women feel safe and protected in their work, their lives and their personal relationships.”
“I have asked the government to revise the bill to ensure that it protects the right of women who work and have their own families to have a safe environment.”